Federal EPA to conduct Bliss Corner testing

Jul 6, 2020

The US Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will send out its mobile laboratory to support Massachusetts’ Department of Environmental Protection as it continues residential sampling for chemicals in the soil around the Bliss Corner neighborhood this summer.

The Bliss Corner neighborhood — now thought to have been a historic dumping site — was found to have dangerously high levels of contaminants during construction activity at 85 McCabe Street and 20 Kraseman Street in early 2019.

Polychlorinated biphenyls, also known as PCBs, lead, and other contaminants were found after MassDEP conducted several rounds of testing on public streets, groundwater, and private properties in the South Dartmouth area.

Last November, the levels of PCBs and lead in the soil at two properties —a residence on 19 Kraseman Street and the Little People’s College child care facility at 52 Donald Street — were found at “imminent hazard” levels, which according to state regulations pose “a significant risk of harm to health, safety, public welfare or the environment” even if only present for a short time.

The federal EPA mobile laboratory will be used to provide metals and PCBs analysis to the project management team, according to a press release.

US EPA On-Scene Coordinator John McKeown said that the next round of soil sampling will start on July 7, and will last around two weeks. “Right now our role is helping Mass DEP,” he said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic had caused some delays. 

Both agencies will be collecting soil samples from residential properties for analysis, with at least 15 properties slated for sampling as of July 6.

McKeown said that he expects the teams to go through two to three lots per day.

A mobile workstation will be set up in the parking lot behind Memorial Stadium, he added, and the teams will be conducting the same type of sampling as in previous rounds to maintain consistency.

Workers will also be taking appropriate Covid-19 safety precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing.

Residents who are on the MassDEP list of homes requesting sampling will hear from the agencies to coordinate property access and sampling dates and times.

Work will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with three to four employees sampling at each property over the course of several hours, according to the press release. The entire project will take around two weeks. No heavy equipment will be used.